~ The Universe of Bagpipes ~
A Web Site by Oliver Seeler

Page 26 of 30 illustrating the pipes heard on Bagpipes of the World

For more information on the album click on the cover at left


MEZOUED
Also called, in some Western bagpipe literature, by the name
ZUKRA

Tunisia


cylindrical bore double chanter with single-blade reeds



General Comments:

The Mezoued is perhaps the most archtypical bagpipe in this collection, and hails from a region - North Africa - which some feel was where bagpipes first appeared. Its hornpipe ancestry is obvious - it is in essence a double hornpipe tied into a bag.

For some time this pipe was called a "Zukra" on this page. This now seems not to be the most accurate name for the instrument. A correspondent from Tunisia, Nizar Ben Romdhane, was kind enough to write questioning the use of the name for this bagpipe, and an interesting exchange followed which can be read here, on his site. More recently a less distant source, David Brown, a California-based musician and expert on North African instruments, raised the same point to us. It now looks like earlier scholarly sources, including Anthony Baines, didn't have it right - perhaps because of language difficulties, or perhaps because of confused informants. In any event, it seems that if the name "Zukra" was ever applied to this bagpipe at all in its native country, it was long ago, and perhaps even then in error. To confuse the issue further, there is an oboe-like instrument in Tunisia that is called by that name, but there is no evidence of it having any connection to this bagpipe.

We would feel worse about having perpetrated this error were it not for the fact that this sort of thing is quite common around bagpipes. The longer and further we look, the more varieties of bagpipes pop up, it seems, and the nomenclature is often a confused array of half-forgotten local terms. One reason for this is that bagpipes, in almost every instance, were folk instruments and were thus rarely of interest to the writers (and artists) of their cultures, who were most often concerned with loftier (and more lucrative) subjects. There is little if any contemporary literature from most bagpipe-playing regions, and by the time modern ethnomusicologists became interested in these instruments, much information about them (not to mention, in many cases, the bagpipes themselves) had vanished, or existed only in fragments. So, there are mysteries, large and small, around bagpipes - which always keeps things interesting! ~ O.S. 10/2004


Musical Notes:


The scales and key signatures given may be regarded as approximations; bagpipes may deviate from conventional standards in absolute and relative pitch.


The Tunisian Mezoued being played by Sean Folsom.
The cane chanters end in a pair of cowhorns in typical hornpipe fashion.

This rear view shows the simple but effective means of keeping the cow horns secure on the delicate cane - a cord connecting them to the stock.
Detail showing the blowpipe.

Here the blowpipe is made of a length of cane, but sometimes the Mezoued is fitted with a blowpipe made from the wingbone of a bird.
The reeds are not one piece with the chanters but are set in with wax, though some of this pipe's obvious ancestors are made that way - with the chanter being nothing more than a reed with a long body pierced by fingerholes. The disk-like stock, grooved on its edge, is tied into the neck of the goatskin bag. If the reeds need attention, the entire unit must be untied and removed from the bag.


Photographs & Text Copyright 1999 - 2004, Oliver Seeler,

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